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Three S. Korean climbers found dead in Japan's Central Alps

Three of five missing South Korean climbers were found dead in the Central Alps in central Japan Tuesday, officials said.

A 78-year-old man named Park Moon-soo was confirmed as one of the three dead, officials at the South Korean consulate general in Niigata said, adding that they are still waiting for the exact identities of the other two.

"Park's identity has been confirmed," a consulate general official said, adding that a passport in the name of Lee Soo-keun was found inside a backpack next to another body.

Information about the third victim is still known, the official said.

The five are members of a Busan-based climbers' club but were individually taking part in a group tour organized by the regional tour agency with a total of 20 men and women aged 48 to 78, according to the club. The five went missing on their way up the 2,931-meter-high Mount Hoken on Monday.

After a search and rescue operation, the bodies of the three men were found on climbing routes between the mountain and the 2,728-meter-high Mount Hinokio early Tuesday, they said.

The remaining 15 members have been confirmed safe, officials said, adding that the search continues for the other two missing climbers.

The Japanese Alps is the country's most prominent range that runs in a north-south direction through central Honshu. (Yonhap News)

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